The vast majority of kids are very much reluctant to take naps when their parents or teachers tell them it is time for one. Adults however could not be more eager to get some much needed shut-eye in the day to allow them to reach the end of it. While some people are avid nappers, others are not, but for those that are, a sleep doctor has weighed into the debate on whether a nap is good for you and what is the perfect duration of a nap.
Rafael Pelayo, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Stanford Centre For Sleep Sciences and Medicine in California first explained that he compares napping to snacking. He said “If you’re somebody who didn’t get enough food for whatever reason, then a snack is OK. On the other hand, if you’re snacking so much that you can’t eat dinner at night, it might not be the best choice.”
So, if you’re getting a good amount of sleep and just want a nap to keep up energy levels, then it is perfectly fine. However, if you are napping because you can’t sleep at night, it will most probably mess up your sleep pattern.
As for how long the perfect nap should be, Dr. Peyalo explained that taking three to four hour naps are more of a sleeping period than a quick dose to get you through the afternoon. He added that most naps should be under an hour. If naps run over one hour and a half, your body may go into sleep inertia which is the fogginess you get when you wake up in the morning. This then carries effects with you for the rest of the day, making you feel sluggish and sometimes sleep deprived, despite having just slept for hours.
As a general rule, Dr. Peyalo explained that naps are fine if you are living a healthy lifestyle and working naps in to complement your wellness. However, they can make your insomnia even greater if you are using naps instead of getting around 8 hours of sleep per night.